Friday, May 28, 2010
Turmeric nature’s best Cancer Champion!
Turmeric is an herbaceous perennial plant of the ginger family. It is grown in tropical Asia. It is hugely popular in India where it is an ingredient used in curries. Many recipes call for Saffron, but this herb is hugely expensive and so Turmeric has been used for centuries as a cheaper alternative. It was once know as “Indian Saffron”, which appears to get this distinction across.
The rhizomes or root stalks of Turmeric are boiled for hours and then dried in hot ovens. Once pounded down to make a deep orange powder the Turmeric that we recognize emerges. Its active ingredient is curcumin.
Curcumin is a powerful anti-oxidant which has been used medicinally in India for centuries. It is used in food because it is not only a tasty spice but from a more practical viewpoint it serves the purpose of an antiseptic and antibacterial agent. Curries had a purpose, especially in the days prior to refrigeration, many foods went bad quickly, the spices in curry disguised the taste. Spices like turmeric protected people from bacterial infections that would come as a result.
Turmeric has many health benefits. It is a liver detoxifier and a mighty anti-inflammatory agent. Inflammation is present when the body is fighting an infection. Its presence is really the key to heart disease and diabetes. Turmeric helps the body fight inflammation which is imperative for avoiding dangerous conditions. Note that arthritis is an inflammatory condition.
However, Turmeric’s real potency is its role in fighting cancer. Shane Ellison in his book “Over the Counter Natural Cures” calls it a chemotherapy agent. Everyone has cancer cells. But cancer becomes a problem only when those cells begin to proliferate out of control. All cancer cells are programmed to self-destruct. This immune-protective procedure is called “apoptosis”. It seems that the body replaces 1,000,000 cells per-second thanks to apoptosis. To trigger the mechanism we require specific nutrients. Appropriate weapons can be found in broccoli and green-tea, but the best of the bunch is turmeric. In the 1990s the University of Texas, Anderson Cancer Center described the affect “Indian Gold” had on tumor production as “staggering”. They found that it blocked the pathways that enhanced cancer growth. It seems the spice blocks “VEGF” or vascular endothelial growth factor. Lacking VEGF the cancer cells weaken and then implode upon themselves. The transcription factors in the cells are turned off and so the cancer cells subsequently die of their own accord. Why? It appears that transcription factors turn off the cells natural tendency to do away with themselves. Once you turn off the transcription factors then the cells natural tendency to self destruction is restored. Turmeric helps destroy cancer cells but it advantageously also promotes the growth of healthy cells.
Turmeric is available as a kitchen spice, but can be difficult to take in large quantities because it can cause indigestion. However, it is easily available in capsule form. The best way to take the capsule is with food. A review of Turmeric studies indicate a good maintenance dose would be in the region of 400 to 600 mgs per day. To ease the assimilation of the condiment it is a good idea to take it with a little olive or coconut oil. For cancer treatment the dose would be much larger. Take 0.05 mgs per kilo of body weight. If you weigh 70kgs then expect to take 3.5 Gms of Turmeric over the day. It seems that Turmeric causes few side effects, but as I said it can cause a little indigestion. The Linus Pauling Institute also mentions that Turmeric is contraindicated in cases of gallstones or of bile insufficiency.
There have been several studies that favorably propose Turmeric as a cancer fighter: see Dhandapani, Mahesh and Brann “Journal of Neurochemistry 2007 and the American Cancer Society’s Guidelines 2006.
Alister Bredee is a Clinical Nutritionist, Holistic Health Practitioner and Detox Specialist with more than a quarter of a century of experience. He is the founder of Health Ambit Consultancy, for contact details see www.healthambit.com